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The Minnesota State Fair’s CEO is retiring after 26 years in the role.

Jerry Hammer will retire as the fair’s CEO in the spring of 2023, according to a Monday announcement. His 26 years in the role make him the longest-serving CEO in the fair’s 169-year history.

Hammer has worked with the fair for 53 years. During his time as CEO, the fair made an economic impact of around $300 million on the Twin Cities. The announcement also pointed to almost $180 million worth of improvements made to the fairgrounds’ facilities and expansions without the use of public funding.

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve this amazing place for so long,” Hammer said in a statement.

“What a great gift it is when your life’s work is bringing people together to celebrate the very best of each other. This is way more than an agricultural fair. It’s a uniquely Minnesota-style celebration of our humanity.”

During his time as CEO, Hammer oversaw the fair when it was canceled for just the sixth time in its history due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The fair’s board of managers has already started its search for the next CEO. Hammer will help the board with the transition as he continues as CEO into the spring. 

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